CHICAGO - "Escape to Margaritaville" begins previews at the Oriental Theatre this week.
Jimmy Buffett came out with "Margaritaville" in 1977. Forty years later, that tune and much of Buffett's songbook are woven into "Escape to Margaritaville" - along with new music.
It's not a Buffett bio-musical, but the story of a singer/bartender who thinks he has life figured out until the right gal comes along. On Tuesday, the cast and creative team gathered to talk about the fun ride of their chillin' new show.
"Even if you didn't know a Jimmy Buffett song walking in, the story holds, and the music and the dance kind of burst off the stage and it's also really fun to perform for the Parrotheads," director Christopher Ashley said. "And Chicago is one of those audiences."
To ready himself for the lead role of Tully, Paul Alexander Nolan did a boot camp with Buffett at a bar!
"You'd think that they'd be still and quiet for Jimmy in a small setting but they're not, it's just like a Jimmy Buffett concert where everyone is talking and shouting out things and partying at the same time, so it was wild," Nolan said.
Alison Luff is the love interest. She snagged her role singing "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On" to Buffett.
"Jimmy actually told me that it was the first time he's ever heard anyone, other than himself, sing that song, so it was very surreal for him as well," Luff said.
Chicago gets represented by Glenbard North High School and Bradley University grad Eric Petersen.
"I grew up a Parrothead, so I've been going to concerts since I was a kid. I grew up on boats and we had a boat on Lake Michigan and we only listened to Jimmy Buffett & Bob Marley," Peterson said.
Buffett is in town next week for an official red carpet open. After Chicago, the flip flops and pop tops make a move to Broadway.